Tag Archives: The Meaning of Wife

Wife up!


Yep. I’m still thinking about Wifedom. (For someone who isn’t even sure wifehood is the way to go, I sure am a bit bride-, wife-, and marriage-obsessed. In a cerebral way. Really.) I can’t help it– this book was fantastic; it’s given me a lot to mentally chew on, and this is the partially digested cud I’ve come up with:
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What’s it mean to be a wifey?

wifeBefore we delve into the depths of Anne Kingston’s delicious, decadent delight (The Meaning of Wife–I hope you’ve had time to pick up a copy!)— let’s talk about “wife.”

When I hear the word, I’m immediately hit with a wave of connotations: wedding dresses, Father of the Bride, housework, husbands, love?, divorce, yoga class, soccer mom, supermom, second, _____’s wife, loss of identity, work, swap, wedding rings, diamonds, trophys, gold diggers, happily ever after, proposals, the second shift, First Lady, the 1950s, partnership, ownership, equality?, and many, many, more things. I was having trouble sorting through all my wife-baggage, so I enlisted the help of my greatest resources: my friends, family, and Google — This is what I found:


Wikipedia tells me that the term has Middle English, Old English, and Germanic roots meaning “woman,” and Indo-European roots meaning “veiled or clothed,” allegedly referring to wedding veils. “Wife” simply meant “woman” at one point in time, and had nothing to do with marriage, as evidenced in words that remain today like “midwife.”

Who remembers Fairie Tale Theater? Having partially defined my childhood, I can’t talk about “wife” and not mention their version of the Princess and the Pea. (This was also the first thing a relative thought of when I asked about “wife”.) Their Prince is bored and “needs something more, something to make his relatively perfect life complete.” He thinks he might need a pet, like a little dog or a hamster– the Fool informs him that no, in fact, he needs a wife. “A wife?” “Yeah.” “Would that be better than a hamster?” “Much.” Watch a clip (~5:10 is where this clip takes place).

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The Meaning of Wife

Well, if you’re at all like me, the last book left you wanting more.  I was only a little disappointed that Squire left the narrative just when things were really starting to get good.  And so, the next book:

104825012The Meaning of Wife, by Anne Kingston

I appreciated the history and context that Squire’s book “I Don’t” provided, but it really only left in me a desire to see how her work translates to modern day life.  Kingston’s book aspires to do just that.  From the book flap:

“[The Meaning of Wife] takes the reader on a fascinating journey through the complex, troubling, and sometimes humorous contradictions, illusions, and realities of contemporary wifehood.  Anne Kingston looks at “wife backlash” and the new wave of neotraditionalism that urges women to marry young; explores the apotheosis of abused wives and the strange celebration of wives who kill; and muses on the fact that Oprah Winfrey and Martha Stewart, two of the world’s wealthiest and most influential women, are both unmarried.  The result is an entertaining mix of social, sexual, historical, and economic commentary that is bound to stir debate even as it reframes our view of both women and marriage.”

Read on, friends, and join us again when the debate ensues.